Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Oregon, and it’s not hard to see why.  It’s (usually) free, it can be as hard or as easy as you’d like, there’s no special skill involved, and you (usually) get rewarded with some gorgeous views.  The area around Eugene has tons of great hiking options as well.  Hiking Spencer’s Butte and Mount Pisgah is basically how one gets initiated to the area.  However there are some risks to hiking, and there’s a fairly high chance of injury if you’re not prepared.

Ankle sprains, knee pain, hip pain, and back pain are all common issues that people run into after hiking.  The good news is that most of these can be avoided!  With proper mobility (which may be improved with a proper warm up), balance, and strength, most people can go on hikes without any significant issues.  To get you through your next hike without an issue, consider some of these tips:

  • Keep your ankles mobile and strong – Ankle sprains are by far the most common injury from hiking, and it’s not hard to imagine why.  Make sure you have good ankle mobility (especially dorsiflexion), and keep your ankles strong by working on your balance.  If you can’t stand on one leg for at least 30 seconds, you’ve got work to do!
  • Work those hips! – Hiking, especially on more vigorous trails, requires a ton of hip mobility and strength.  Try some lunges (check out this video from MSN on a different lunge variation), step ups, or some body weight squats.  If you normally do longer hikes, think about performing a high volume of these exercises (think 20-30+ reps per set).
  • Be aware of your knee – Knee issues can be brought on by any number of things, but making sure that your knee is tracking over your toes can help prevent a ton of issues.  While hiking, exercising, or just in your daily life, your knee cap should be going somewhere over your toes.  If your knee goes to the inside of your big toe or the outside your little toe when your squatting, lunging, climbing stairs, or while hiking, it would be a good idea to correct that.  This isn’t obvious, so you may need guidance by a physical therapist to get that figured out.

If you have a solid foundation of strength, mobility, and balance, you’ll be ready to take on anything! – except bears.  Don’t do that.  But rocks, hills, and scrambles?  You should be covered.  Hiking is great, but as with any activity, you want to make sure that you can get through without getting injured.

For some ideas on hikes, try the AllTrails App from the iTunes Store or Google Play.  It’s a great app that collects locations, reviews, photos, and other info on tons of hikes, so if you’re getting bored of the usual trip, check it out and see if you can find something new!

Got questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to be limitless.

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.